Harsh Realm: The Complete Series [DVD]
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This action-packed sci-fi drama tells the story of Lieutenant Thomas Hobbes, a soldier whose last mission is to enter the virtual reality military training programme known as Harsh Realm to escape from this nightmarish alternate reality he has to beat the top player in the game, Omar Santiago, the man who holds the secret of the way back into the real world. Will Hobbes succeed in his mission? How many people does he need to kill? Who can he trust? Is Harsh Realm really only a game?
The dark and fantastic Harsh Realm, a science fiction series about a war fought by flesh-and-blood humans trapped inside virtual reality, was launched by The X-Files creator Chris Carter in 1999 and died a regrettable, premature death on the Fox channel after three episodes. The remaining six shows found sanctuary on the FX network, and then Harsh Realm slipped into history, its wild story, based on a comic book, far from resolved. Perhaps Harsh Realm's ratings failure had something to do with its broad similarities to the hugely popular The Matrix, released only a few months before, or, for that matter, David Cronenberg's 1999 eXistenZ, in which characters fight for their lives inside a video game. Whatever the reason, enough time has passed to take an objective look at Harsh Realm, and there is a lot to be admired in its high level of imagination, complex plotting, and cutting-edge production values.
Scott Bairstow stars as U.S. Army Lieutenant Tom Hobbes, a decorated hero who risked his life rescuing a buddy, Major Mel Waters (Max Martini), during a peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia. Set to return to civilian life and marry his fiancée, Sophie (Samantha Mathis), Hobbes is summoned by a mysterious superior (Lance Henriksen) and asked to test-run Harsh Realm, a virtual reality war game devised by the Pentagon. Once he begins, however, Hobbes is mentally imprisoned in the dangerous game (his body, along with those of hundreds of other "volunteers," is cared for in a secret military hospital), where he is identified by other, desperate captives as the savior they've been awaiting. D.B. Sweeney is very good as another soldier, Mike Pinocchio, whose sense of mission is re-awakened by Hobbes and who becomes a partner in an endless effort to defeat a madman named Santiago (Terry O'Quinn), who rules Harsh Realm from within. As with The X-Files, the nine episodes in this boxed set are each very striking on their own terms, with post-apocalyptic sets, constant surprises, and that special Chris Carter touch (fans of his Millennium will like Harsh Realm, too) that makes every story look and feel like a collision of a nightmare and a crisis of faith. --Tom Keogh
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Top Customer Reviews
Harsh Realm is a show that was cancelled before it was ever given a chance to shine, and while there are are a few duff episodes, on the whole it is an excellent slice of TV Sci-Fi. The computer program/alternate universe theme is always a good one and Scott Bairstow plays his role well. Although the stand-out character in my opinion is D B Sweeney's Pinocchio. Cynical to a fault, while always entertaining.
Yes, the show is a bit underdeveloped, but with less than half a normal season of episodes thats only to be expected. And it does get very good towards the end of the season.
Highly recommended. Harsh Realm is dfinitely worth buying. And considering how unlikely it was that UK viewers would ever get to watch it, you can savour it all the more. Buy it. You never know, maybe if enough are sold then we might get more never-seen gems!!
We can hope!
In short, this is what the show is about: Lt.Thomas Hobbes, portrayed by Scott Bairstow, returns from military duty in Sarajevo after rescuing his friend Waters there, asking himself what exactly guides his life. He now lives on a military base with his beautiful fiancé Sophie, played by Samantha Mathis, only to be called to a secret meeting in the middle of the night. There he is told by a general, played by Lance Henriksen, that there actually is a virtual computer simulation created by the US government, which had the purpose of serving as an almost perfect virtual environment for training soldiers and had been obtained through scanning of the real world, so that, in a sense, a true parallel world exists: Harsh Realm, a synthetic world filled with virtual characters in the image of real people in the real world. The problem is that a certain Omar Santiago, played by Terry O'Quinn, has entered Harsh Realm, basically conquered it and now rules part of it as a Hitler-esque General in his very own city complex, Santiago City.Read more ›
There are no weak episodes and the overall feeling I was left with was one of surprise that such a cracking series only lasted one season before being cancelled.
The extras do not warrant much attention, with the exception of Chris Carter's commentary on the pilot. However, because the series is so good, the lack of extras is a minor quibble.
Give this DVD a try-you might be pleasantly surprised.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some unusal concepts here, think it woudl have blossomed if it had been given a chance. Glad I managed to get aheold of these dvd's. This show is rarely shown in reruns,Published 3 months ago by James Riddles
Found this extremely boring and after a few episodes stopped watching, Not a bad idea just not very Sci-Fi or Action Packed.Published 10 months ago by Inquizator
It's.....OK. Not Chris Carter's best work. It's just.....OK.
Only buy if you are a Chris Carter fan & want this to add to your collection (like me), as this was never... Read more
Starts of well but winds down into chaos. The episodes from about the middle on are not really connected.
Still, for the price, it's entertaining enough.
if they have a copy of this for sale buy it it's as rare as hens teeth. a lot of familiar faces from lost prison break etc... Read morePublished 19 months ago by luke
I enjoyed Harsh Realm, some epidodes are better than others but the WW2 game glitch episode is a really good watch.Published on 6 Mar. 2014 by Amazon Customer